Rethinking What Masculinity Means at the Office

“I didn’t really identify with this group or this culture at all,” said a man in a recent leadership development session I was running. He was standing among a group of male colleagues, to discuss what it was like to be a man today. “I really don’t like the jockeying for position, the loud voices, the false cheeriness,” he explained. The executive facing him — ex-military, 6’5” — looked astonished. “That’s all we were ever taught to do,” he said, “Take a position and hold it.”

The range of styles among these men was vast, but their awkwardness at trying to explore it was shared. They had trouble looking at each other, listening, asking questions. Visually, you could see them struggle to coalesce as a simple circle – even though, I couldn’t help noticing, they looked remarkably similar; most of them wore nearly identical blue button-down shirts.

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